Saturday, December 22, 2012

Merry Christmas!

Yay! We're still here! December 21st 2012 came and went and as far as I can tell, the world is still intact. Silly Mayans! Now we can look forward to Christmas in a few days.

I took Michelle to visit Santa. It was a last minute decision. My sister had asked if I was going to get a picture of Michelle with Santa. Though I thought it would be cute I was reluctant to bring her because I was expecting the worst. Any outing with Michelle is a bit of a crap shoot. What will she do? Will she scream? Will she poo? I was afraid there would be a huge line-up for Santa or that she'd catch something from him (after Michelle getting sick with a cold last month I'm paranoid about her being exposed to germs. With kids crawling on him all day I can't imagine anyone having more germs on him than Santa!) But after seeing my sister's photo of her kids with Saint Nick I kept thinking what a nice souvenir it would be of Michelle's first Christmas. So I decided to give it a go.

We were off to a rough start with Michelle wailing in the car. "This doesn't bode well..." I sighed. Then getting out of the car there was an icy cold blustery wind that nearly took the stroller out of my hands. My hair was blowing in my face, my eyes were watering. I started to think this was a mistake. At least Michelle had been distracted by the cold gusts of wind and stopped crying. As we made our way through the mall I couldn't believe my eyes -- there was NO LINE-UP for Santa! Bonus! Then I was thrilled that Michelle not only behaved but even gave us (the girl working the booth and I making noises and faces) a smile for the photo! I was so glad that I'd gone. I was happy with my outfit choice for her too. Her little striped red and white sleeper made her look like a little candy cane. I'm going to try to make it a tradition to get her photo with Santa every year though I know it may not always work out. I was one of those kids that screamed on Santa's knee when I was little. Let's face it, with that red suit and big white beard, he is a little scary.

Picking up stamps afterward proved more challenging than I'd anticipated. Shoppers Drug Mart was actually sold out so I had to go to a little convenience store at the other end of the mall. Michelle was running out of patience by then and starting to fuss so I was literally running through the mall pushing the stroller at breakneck speed. Out of my peripheral vision I caught a few smiles and raised eyebrows as I motored through the mall like Mario Andretti on Red Bull. Unfortunately it was pretty crowded with Christmas shoppers so occasionally I got stuck in slow moving pedestrian traffic (which to me is even more annoying than vehicular traffic when you're in a hurry!) Please move to the right to let faster traffic pass! I rolled my eyes and meandered around them. Even Michelle stopped crying and looked up at me curiously. Mama was on a mission. When I got to the store I realized it had been a long time since I'd bought stamps. Last I knew they were around 50 cents. Now they've gone up to 65 cents. Between direct deposit, telephone banking and emails etc, I rarely have to send anything by snail mail anymore.

As hurried as I was to get home with Michelle before she had a meltdown, I did pause for a moment to admire the Nativity Scene. To see the real meaning of Christmas, in the middle of a shopping mall amidst the hustle and bustle of shoppers scrambling to buy armloads of gifts, was touching to me. Sometimes we forget what it's really all about. It is Jesus' birthday after all. Unfortunately he gets overshadowed by Santa Claus, Christmas trees and presents, just as Easter (Christ's resurrection from the dead and ascension into Heaven) gets lost in egg hunts and chocolate bunnies. They are Christian holidays yet many of the people celebrating don't even believe in Jesus. People forget (or maybe don't even know) what these holidays actually represent.

Apparently it's not politically correct to say Merry Christmas. I heard that in schools they have to say "Happy Holidays" to be respectful to everyone who may have different beliefs. I certainly don't mean to be disrespectful when I say Merry Christmas. It's what I believe. I wouldn't be offended if someone said Happy Hanukkah to me. I'd just smile and wish them the same or tell them I'm not Jewish but I certainly wouldn't be upset about it.

We had a nice visit at my sister's place. Of course my brother in law got a big Christmas tree again. It's actually not quite as huge as previous trees (believe it or not. Some of them looked like they were transplanted from Algonquin Provincial Park!) but still massive compared to an average Christmas tree. My brother in law doesn't believe in doing anything small. Many of the ornaments are large scale as well. Some of the balls are bigger than my head! Their living room is two stories high so it accommodates enormous trees. I'm not exactly sure how he gets them in the house! I've never had a real tree myself. I'm happy with my artificial white one (a gift from my sister years ago.)

My niece Shannon asked me what I wanted for Christmas this year. I told her I didn't really want or need anything in particular, I'd rather have things for Michelle. Like the shirt says, she is definitely my favourite present. The best (and most unexpected) gift of my life. Though she still has her moody moments, overall she has been getting better and is a joy most of the time. I love her smile, her giggle, her little sounds from soft noises and coos to ear-piercing shrieks of excitement. She's always making me laugh. Sometimes I'm so exhausted I can barely stand but her energy is infectious. Seeing how happy she is to play and jump around (in her jumperoo and jolly jumper) perks me up too.

Michelle is getting better at sitting. Of course she is only four months and I read that babies usually don't sit unassisted until six months. As with anything practice makes perfect. I try to give her time every day to experiment with sitting and standing as well as her "tummy time" which she's an expert at now and is close to crawling. She sits well in her Bumbo and when propped but couldn't sit up without support for more than a second until now. It's almost like sitting on Santa's knee had a magical effect because after we got home that day she was sitting up for several seconds on her own (of course she was on my soft bed where she could topple over without getting hurt.) She balanced herself quite well with her hands at her sides for support. I took several pictures of her and even a video (see below).

Michelle sitting video --
I can't believe Christmas is in just a few days! Thankfully I got my shopping done. It's not easy with the baby so I'm relieved not to have to go out again. My family agreed to scale back somewhat this year, mostly just buying for the kids. I know that Michelle is too young to understand or appreciate it but I still want her first Christmas to be special. She seems to like the Christmas tree. She gazes in wonder at the lights and glittery ornaments.
I often have to sing her lullabies to get her to sleep. One night I decided to sing her Christmas carols and to record it for Youtube. I thought it would be cute to sing a few Christmas classics and have her fall asleep on video. It didn't quite pan out that way. Instead I sang 10 Christmas songs, was losing my voice (and running out of songs that I knew by heart!) and she was still WIDE AWAKE. I posted the video anyway. I'd been wanting to do a Christmas video of some sort and could never find the time. Here is the video:
Singing carols to Michelle --

So many things I used to take for granted now mean so much more with Michelle in my life. She reminds me that life is a precious gift and that every day is a new adventure. This Christmas will be my most fun and most exciting ever since I was a kid. I love singing carols to Michelle (which I've been doing at night as well as in the car. She seems to prefer me to the radio and doesn't cry as long as I keep the show going!), reading her "Twas the Night Before Christmas" (she seems to enjoy it. I've made it part of our nightly routine this month) and I can't wait to share Christmas Day with the whole gang (though with six kids running amok, it may be complete anarchy!)

I want to wish everyone who celebrates Christmas a very Merry Christmas! To anyone else, Happy Holidays -- Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanzaa, Eid al-Adha, Bodhi Day, Winter Solstice, Festivus, whatever you believe -- may your days be merry and bright! I think that universally this month should be about love and celebration -- cherishing time with the ones you care about, reflecting on the year that's passed and looking forward to the new year ahead. When I look back at the last year and all that I've been through I still can't believe it. It's been quite a journey. I'm grateful for all of it, even the most difficult moments because they led me here. And here, with my little girl, is a pretty great place to be.

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